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Senior Care

Great ways for caregivers to improve the lives of seniors

Great ways for caregivers to improve the lives of seniors

By  June Duncan of Rise Up for Caregivers

Quality of life matters at any age. If you’re a caregiver for a senior, you probably see that your loved one could benefit from improvement but you may not be sure how to help. You may even harbor concerns for your loved one’s safety. Here are some suggestions to help provide the best living environment and lifestyle for your beloved senior.

Reducing risks

Safety first: Making small modifications to your senior loved one’s home can reduce risks of falls and other safety concerns. Here are some simple things experts recommend installing to help keep your senior safe:

  • Safety bars and hand-holds in the bathroom around showers, tubs and toilets
  • Motion-activated lighting
  • A home security system
  • Peepholes in entry doors

Technology: Technology offers many ways to help seniors stay more active and independent. The professionals at LifeHack suggest using electronic heart monitors, medication reminders, and alert systems. Cell phones and applications such as Skype and FaceTime can help you keep in touch from far away.


Out and about.


Exercise: Staying active is good for people of all ages. Exercise can improve mental outlook and well-being. It also can facilitate better brain function and reduce a number of health risks. The CDC offers some great guidelines for seniors, recommending both aerobic and strength activities.

Transportation: Many seniors suffer occasional issues from medications or ailments which prevent driving, and some seniors reach the point that driving is no longer an option at all. The AARP offers these recommendations as alternatives to driving:

  • Friends and family can volunteer to drive or you could pay them a nominal fee
  • Senior organizations and faith organizations often offer transportation services
  • Public transportation, taxis, and shuttle services
  • Private car services can be hired if there is an ongoing need

A note of concern. AgingCare points out that ending the era of driving oneself is pivotal for seniors. Giving up driving can mean loss of independence, routine, and a sense of identity. Seniors sometimes keep driving in spite of hearing or vision loss, or bouts of confusion. Many seniors don’t realize there are options available and continue to drive, even when their ability is declining. In fact, fatal driving accidents are predicted to triple by the year 2030. It’s imperative to intervene if your senior shouldn’t be driving due to declining health or cognitive ability. Be persistent and creative in seeking solutions.


Togetherness. Connecting is important for mental health. According to some experts, seniors who are lonely are at a higher risk for dementia and live shorter lives. Make sure your loved one still has a social life. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stay involved with faith organizations
  • Find a hobby your senior can enjoy
  • Encourage attendance at parties and family events, such as showers, graduations, birthdays and holidays
  • Volunteer at charities and community organizations
  • Arrange for family or friends to take your senior to lunch or visit over a cup of coffee
  • Get involved with senior centers
  • Arrange transportation for activities if your senior is no longer driving


Everyone feels better if they feel needed. Giving your senior tasks can help improve their mood  and outlook. Ask for help with things still within your loved one’s scope of ability, such as folding laundry, preparing meals, running errands together, making to-do lists and shopping lists, sorting mail and organizing drawers.

Better quality of life

Take steps to improve life for your senior. Reduce risks and safety concerns. Use technological advances for support and to stay in touch. Help your loved one with getting out and about, and encourage your senior to stay involved. Through these simple measures, you can promote a better everyday life for your senior.


Food is Medicine

So where does food tie in? The threat of hunger affects 11% of seniors today. By 2025 that number will increase by 75% and there will be so many more seniors. We are not keeping up today with food insecurity with seniors. What are we going to do in 10 years?

The worse the food insecurity the worse the ADLs, hospitalization rates, behavioral health, asthma, heart disease. Since the onset of the recession in 2007 until 2014, the number of seniors experiencing the threat of hunger has increased by 65%.

For the Elderly, food insecurity is not only about lack of access:

  • lack of money
  • transportation limitations, 
  • health or mobility limitations, 
  • not the right foods for health including health-related dietary requirements
  • lack of motivation to cook or eat

Why does this matter? 

Food is medicine. The economic implications of ignoring the health component of food insecurity are enormous. 

Food is medicine for older Americans experiencing chronic diseases. Food secure seniors experience a better response to medication, can maintain and gain strength faster and have overall higher chances of recovery and health maintenance. Access to proper nutrition is paramount in the prevention of various illnesses and disabilities, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart and lung problems.

  • 50% more likely to be diabetic
  • 60% more likely to suffer from depression
  • 30% more likely to have at least on ADL limitation
  • 40% more likely to report heart attacks 
  • 200% more likely to develop asthma
  • Three times more likely to skip medication or to stop taking them
  • Additionally, food insecure seniors also experience decreased resistance to infections and lengthened hospital stays, which ultimately results in higher medical costs.

Financial impact

The healthcare costs associated with food insecurity include hospitalization, needing to move into a nursing home, the cost of a home health aide, increased medications and need to see more doctors. 

The complications increase when people live in areas with poor access to food in both rural and urban areas.

A 2013 study showed that monthly health care costs were 31% lower for clients who received the home-delivered meals

By 2040 this entire cohort will be in retirement. At least twice as many seniors as we have now. It is imperative that our society focuses its attention on supporting this generation, as it will soon become the majority of the world population. If preventative measures are not taken for the aging population the economic impact will skyrocket.

What can we do?

Start thinking about healthcare as an ecosystem where all the legs to the stool are supported

Provide better tools for the family caregivers

Work with providers and policy makers to apply an intergenerational approach when trying to meet the nutritional needs of these seniors.

What we are doing at Cognotion

  • We need to think about the home as the center for health. Home is the place where we prevent disease. Home is the frontline of healthcare. 
  • Look at the touchpoint: caregiver or a medical provider. Caregiver becomes the eyes and ears. 
  • We are partnering with groups that have devices that allow the elderly person to either be monitored or to send info that is collected by everyone in the healthcare continuum.
  • Connecting with public health and community-based organizations to step in when we see the need evidenced in a home.  
  • Educating families on subjects like Ability which includes ways in which individuals prepare foods and combine foods into dishes, meals, and meal patterns
  • We need to broaden the provision of healthy, nutritionally-tailored food as a medical service.
  • This concept has the potential to produce significant cost savings and help people stay in their communities.

And when communities remain intact, when the needs of multi-generations are met we have stronger communities and that affects healthcare outcomes all around.